|dc.description.abstract||In varying degrees, Filipino Christians are caught in a three-way
confrontation of spirit-world views. The three views are the Western-inspired
rationalistic understanding of the supernatural, the nonrationalistic
Filipino traditional religious beliefs and practices, and
the biblical understanding of the spirit-world. The tension created by
this confrontation often results in a syncretistic response labelled
"split-level Christianity'' by Jesuit priest Jaime Bulatao.
This study was proposed in an attempt to remedy the "split-level"
characteristic of the Filipino Christian experience. Specifically, it
attempts to identify a contextualized theological-pastoral approach to
the spirit-world component of Philippine popular religiosity. The study
is based on a case which exemplifies the issues encountered by Filipino
Christians in attempting to respond to the biblical teachings about the
spirits. The general procedure of the study follows several steps: (1)
description, (2) analysis, (3) biblical-theolog~cal interpretation, and
(4) pastoral action.
Part I: Description
After the case presentation and an introduction of the research,
the description portion of the study presents a review of literature on
the spirit-world phenomenon in the Philippines. This review describes
two major views, one of which view considers the Filipino spirit-world
beliefs as a Filipino invention necessary for social control; the other
view advocates the idea that the belief is based on the reality and
existence of the spirits.
Part II: Analysis
The analysis probes the socio-cultural, psychological, and religious
factors that have shaped the dynamics of the case. The Filipino
values of pakikisama, amor propio, sakop system, and bahala na reinforce
the spirit-world beliefs and made the healing ritual offered by spirit world
practitioners necessary. The most important factor was the
influence of anitism--the primitive Filipino religious belief system.
Anitism's concepts of an inaccessible God, the existence of environmental
spirits, and the idea that all-natural events are attributable to the
inscrutable ways of invisible forces of the spirit-world, are evident in
Part III: Biblical-Theological Interpretation.
The two chapters in this section deal with separate specific issues. One deals with the Filipino belief in the existence of evil
spirits and their involvement in human life and illness. The other deals
with the participation of Filipino Christians in the traditional healing
rituals performed by spirit-world specialists. The findings may be
summarized as follows.
(1) The Bible affirms the reality, existence, and activity of
angels, fallen angels, and demons or evil spirits in this world.
(2) Bible narratives such as the experience of Job and Jesus'
encounter with demon-possessed persons indicates that demons are capable
of inflicting disease and physical harm to human beings.
(3) Major aspects of the spirit-world healing rituals have the
characteristics of magic, a practice condemned by the Bible.
(4) Subscription to spirit-world healing rituals is inconsistent
with the authentic Christian faith.
Part IV: Action
The study recommends that Christianity should not deny the
Filipino spirit-world categorically. Instead, it should endeavor to
inculturate the Filipino spirit-world beliefs and practices within the
bounds of sound biblical principles. The study advocates that Christianity
should provide Filipinos with Christian spirit-world teachings and an
alternative healing ritual. The teachings should emphasize the existence
of the spirit world, the immanence-transcendence of God, the Christus
Victor motif, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Filipinized
healing ritual should use symbols, such as coconut oil and laying on of
hands, to dramatize the sovereignty and power of God over the spirits and